World in Flames
Given that the Phoenix is known to exist, worship of her is nearly universal in Sanctum. However, since she tends not to directly encourage that worship, it takes many different forms depending on the exact locale.
Avatars are individuals chosen to represent the Phoenix. In return for their loyalty and virtue, the Phoenix embeds a portion of her own will and power within them in the form of an Ember. This enables Avatars to access potentially enormous reserves of strength in order to combat injustice, but also means that those not directly chosen may speak with the Phoenix indirectly through them.
Depending on how well and how faithfully they execute the will of the Phoenix, Avatars may receive more and more of her power. The strongest Avatars are capable of singlehandedly bringing a small army to its knees, but will not do so unless the Phoenix deems it absolutely necessary.
Finally, if someone wishes to serve the Phoenix but is either unwilling or ineligible to become an Avatar, the Phoenix may choose to grant them the abilities of a Guardian. Rather than gaining the flame-based powers of the Phoenix, Guardians have their own bodies enhanced and honed by her power. In the absence of an Avatar, a Guardian may receive cryptic visions from the Phoenix to so that the people in their care may better understand her will.
The Phoenix prefers to avoid interfering in Sanctum’s affairs as much as possible, and forbids her Avatars from involving themselves in politics or wars between the regions. Instead, her Avatars and Guardians travel the world to, as they put it, “bring rest to the weary, strength to the broken, and justice to all.” In practice, this means that each Avatar is at once a healer and a holy warrior, fighting injustice wherever they encounter it while doing their best to help those who cannot help themselves. They also serve on the front lines of the ever-expanding battle against the Wyrmborn.
Avatars in particular are symbols of justice and righteousness that gain access to colossal reserves of power through their bond with the Phoenix. At the same time, an Avatar that becomes corrupted by that power or otherwise gives in to evil may be abandoned by their ember and left as a broken, depowered shell.
This is not foolproof – though exceedingly rare, there have been cases in which an individual Avatar’s force of will was so great that they were able to imprison the sacred flame within themselves and continue to use the Phoenix’s divine power for their own ends. Some of these cases have involved Avatars who tried to do what they felt was right using methods that the Phoenix would not have approved of, while others have involved the Avatar in question launching a one-woman assault on Sanctum with devastating consequences.